Monday, November 29, 1999

Court worried about fate of football in India

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Mumbai, June 17 -- Even as the world is delirious with the World Cup football fever, the Bombay High Court is concerned about the condition of the game in India. "See the fate of football in this country," a division bench of Justice Ferdino Rebello and Justice R.V. More said while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) regarding Cooperage grounds in south Mumbai. "We are not even playing in the world cup. It's a tragedy." The court made these observations during a discussion on the petition. The Oval-Cooperage Residents' Association, represented by former municipal commissioner Jamshed Kanga, filed the PIL challenging former chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde's September 2003 order allowing redevelopment of Cooperage grounds. Armed with the CM's nod, the Western India Football Association (WIFA) is constructing a football stadium, clubhouse, luxury restaurant, residential hotel and several other structures for commercial use on the ground, which has recently gained heritage status. The petition contended that WIFA could not construct a huge football stadium in the midst of a residential area. The PIL also said Cooperage lacks basic facilities for sanitation and managing traffic, security and crowd. The judges, however, felt that the city should have a good football stadium to attract youngsters towards the game. The petition will be heard after two weeks.The WIFA was first granted a lease in 1969, which was extended for another 30 years in 2003.

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